Sign up for our free e-newsletter to receive news, photos of birds, attracting and ID tips, descriptions of birding hotspots, and more delivered to your inbox every other week. Sign up now
Birds learn quickly that a motionless plastic owl is not a threat.
Try some of the following ideas to make your windows safer. To deter small birds, vertical markings on windows need to be spaced no more than 4 inches apart and horizontal markings no more than 2 inches apart across the entire window. (If hummingbirds are a problem, the spacing should be reduced to a 2-inch by 2-inch grid.) All marking techniques should be applied to the outside of the window.
Vinyl decals and paint to apply to windows to minimize areas of clear or reflecting glass.
Daytime bird collisions typically occur for one of two reasons: 1. The window is reflecting the surrounding habitat, and birds can’t tell the difference. 2. The window is transparent, and birds see through it to appealing objects on the other side.
Vinyl decals that give windows, window corners, sidelights, and doors the appearance of etched glass. Available in a variety of natural, sporting, and artistic patterns.
Pingback: What to do for a Stunned Bird that has crashed into a Window()
PRICE: $19.95 for three-quarter-inch tape (50 feet), $24.95 for three-inch tape (50 feet), and $27.95 for three-inch tape pre-cut into squares (30 feet) WEB: www.abcbirdtape.org
Jennifer Horton is a freelance writer who lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She has also written for us about learning to bird by ear.
Pingback: Easy Backyard Bird Feeding Area for Photos – Gracie Layne Gifts()
Bird-exclusion netting made from durable, lightweight polypropylene, sold as PollyNet and Woodpecker Netting. Useful for keeping birds out of eaves or open spaces. Secure with net clips, hooks, or a staple gun. Hang the netting tightly at least two inches from the glass to provide a firm barrier that will keep birds from hitting the window.
PRICE: From $35 for a 36″-wide running yard WEB: www.thesunshieldpros.com
There are two main types of window collisions: daytime and nighttime. In daylight, birds crash into windows because they see reflections of vegetation or see through the glass to potted plants or vegetation on the other side. At night, nocturnal migrants (including most songbirds) crash because they fly into lighted windows. Some of these nighttime collisions are due to chance, but much more often the nocturnal migrants are lured to their deaths by the lights. For reasons not entirely understood, lights divert nocturnal migrants from their original path, especially in low-ceiling or foggy conditions. In the lighted area, they mill about, sometimes colliding with one another or the lighted structure. The Fatal Light Awareness Program, based in Toronto, Canada, has much more about this problem.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Toronto, New York, San Francisco, and other cities have started lights-out programs aimed at persuading building owners to turn off lights from dusk to dawn during migration season. Results are promising. Lights Out Chicago, for example, has saved 10,000 birds annually. You can do your part to make the skies friendly for migrating birds by deterring window collisions and minimizing light pollution at your home. Below are some of the best products on the market for doing just that.
Tall urban buildings aren’t the only obstacles migrating birds face, though. Most of the windows birds collide with belong to houses. According to George Fenwick, former president of American Bird Conservancy, a home may kill a dozen or more birds a year without the owner being aware.
PRICE: Contact Arnold Glas N.A. for a quote. WEB: www.ornilux.com
3 tips for using decals and paint on windows to prevent bird strikes 1. Use multiple decals; create a pattern that covers the window uniformly. Elements arranged in columns should be four inches apart.
Elements placed in rows should be two inches apart. This is often called the 2 x 4 Rule. 2. Elements should be at least one-eighth inch in width and should contrast as much as possible with the windowpane.
3. Patterns can be placed on the inside or outside of a window that is transparent. If it is reflective, the pattern must be applied to the outside.
There’s one additional reason: birds sometimes see their reflection in a window and attack it. This happens most frequently in the spring when territoriality is high. Although it can be annoying to the homeowner, it’s seldom a threat to the bird’s survival. Most of the remedies suggested below for window strikes will also help solve the problem of a bird attacking its reflection.
Tempera paint or soap. Mark the outside of the window with soap or tempera paint, which is inexpensive and long lasting. You can use either a grid pattern no more than 4 inches by 2 inches (see above), or get creative and paint patterns or artwork on your window.
Decals. Put decals, stickers, sun catchers, mylar strips, masking tape, or other objects (even sticky notes) on the outside surface of the window. These are only effective when spaced very closely (see above).
Note that hawk silhouettes do little to deter birds. Remember: placing just one or two window stickers on a large window is not going to prevent collisions—they must cover most of the glass with the spaces between too narrow for birds to fly through.
ABC BirdTape. This long-lasting tape offers an easier way to apply the correct spacing of dots across your window. More about ABC BirdTape. Acopian Bird Savers. Also known as “zen curtains,” these closely spaced ropes hang down over windows.
They do the work of tape or decals but are easier to install and can be aesthetically pleasing. You can order them to fit your windows or make your own. Screens. Installing mosquito screens over your windows is very effective, as long as they are on the outside of the window and cover the entire surface.
Netting. Cover the glass on the outside with netting at least 3 inches from the glass, taut enough to bounce birds off before they hit. Small-mesh netting (around 5/8″ or 1.6 cm) is best, so that birds don’t get their heads or bodies entangled but will bounce off unharmed.
You can mount the netting on a frame, such as a storm-window frame, for easy installation and removal. One-way transparent film. Products such as Collidescape permit people on the inside to see out, but makes the window appear opaque on the outside.
They can reduce the amount of light that comes in your window (this can also reduce your cooling costs), according to Sheppard.
The window imprint left by a Mourning Dove. Photo by Priscilla Bradley/PFW.
PRICE: $27.95 for 36″ wide (12 lines), $29.95 for 48″ (16 lines) WEB: santarosanational.com
PRICE: From $3.50 to $32 depending on size. $75 for a full door. WEB: windowdressingetc.com/decals.htm
Widely available, long-lasting, and rainproof tempera paint can be applied with a brush or sponge. Make your own stencils, purchase them from your neighborhood art-supply store, or download them for free from www.spraypaintstencils.com or other websites.
Designed and tested by American Bird Conservancy, BirdTape alerts birds to the presence of glass while still allowing light to pass through. Available in three-quarter-inch and three-inch widths. Simply cut to the desired length, remove the backing, and apply to a window’s exterior.
Why Birds Hit Windows—and How You Can Help Prevent It May 5, 2017
Curtains of nylon cords or monofilament lines to hang over a window’s exterior. Birds see these cords and try to avoid them.
What happens to birds that hit windows? Sadly, the bird often dies, even when it is only temporarily stunned and manages to fly away. Many times these birds die later from internal bleeding or bruising, especially on the brain. Daniel Klem of Muhlenberg College has researched this issue since the 1970s. He writes, “Glass is an indiscriminate killer that takes the fit as well as the unfit of a species’ population.”
PRICE: Varies with glass width. $24 for five cords (for glass 21.25″-25.5″ wide). Proceeds support conservation programs at the Acopian Center for the Environment. WEB: www.birdsavers.com
Ingenious and attractive, BirdSavers consist of one-eighth-inch-diameter nylon cords that dangle about four inches apart in front of a window’s exterior, where they are visible to birds, which avoid them. Velcro secures the hanging cords to the top of the window. Recommended by Contributing Editor David Sibley and Daniel Klem Jr., professor of ornithology and conservation biology at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, who has been studying bird-window collisions for more than 20 years. Instructions on the website describe how you can build your own.
Barriers to mount in front of a window to prevent birds that fly into it from striking the glass.
A decorative window film that does double-duty as artwork. More than 150 patterns and shades are available, from stripes to bamboo to frosted. Easy to apply and remove.
David Sibley describes why birds hit windows and what we can do to prevent window strikes
Translucent tape to adhere to a window’s exterior. Birds see it and are warned of the glass, but light still passes through.
Antireflective vinyl or polyester films to apply to the exterior of a window to make it visible to birds.
PRICE (PollyNet): $125.95 for Premium (14′ x 50′), $65.95 for Lightweight (17′ x 50′) WEB: nixalite.com/pollynetbirdnetting, nixalite.com/nettinghardware PRICE (Woodpecker Netting): $50 for three-quarter-inch mesh (14′ x 100′) WEB: absolutebirdcontrol.com
Reflected landscapes can confuse birds and cause deadly window strikes. Photo by Susan Spear/Cornell Lab.
Small white markers are transferred from the tape to a window’s exterior, leaving an attractive, unobtrusive grid of dots that make the glass visible to birds while providing more than 98-percent-clear viewing from inside. Similar markers were recently applied to the exterior of the Consilium Place office complex in Toronto, the subject of a lawsuit over bird strikes last year. Each residential kit comes with 100 feet of marker tape, two measuring strips, and installation instructions.
When that’s not possible, you can still take steps to control when and where light shines:
“Glass art for windows,” these patterned films stick to any smooth surface, decrease glare and UV light, and reduce reflections and the illusion of clear passage. Take care to select a design that offers adequate coverage.
PRICE: $15.99 (Canadian) each for 1-2 rolls; $14.99 each for 3-6 rolls; $13.99 each for 7-12 rolls (plus shipping) WEB: www.featherfriendly.org
1. Move feeders close to your windows — 1.5 feet or closer. From this distance, birds won’t be able to build up enough momentum to hurt themselves if they do fly against the glass.
Even if the impact doesn’t kill a bird immediately, it may be injured or stunned, making it vulnerable to predation later. Nighttime presents its own challenges. Many birds migrate then, using natural light from the moon, stars, and setting sun as navigational tools. Our brightly illuminated cities and neighborhoods interfere with this behavior by letting artificial light leak into the atmosphere. The glow draws birds in, and they can become trapped. Once in a beam of light, they may be reluctant to fly back out, or become disoriented and pulled off course. Confused and exhausted, they often collide with buildings, homes, or each other.
Study at September 11th tribute site confirms dramatic impact of light on migrating birds
But the numbers don’t represent living birds. They tally the birds that died after colliding with one Chicago building from the fall of 1978 to 2004. And a frightening number of birds of other species were also killed. In all, 31,705 individuals from 141 species were found dead at the building.
Pingback: Transparent Killer: Birds and Windows | My Altona Forest()
Affixing a single decal to a window will not deter birds. To lessen the area of exposed glass and help make a window visible to birds, use multiple decals (even multiple decals in the shape of a hawk).
Tested by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany and at American Bird Conservancy’s flight tunnel at the Powdermill Avian Research Center in Pennsylvania, Ornilux glass is laminated with a UV-reflective, patterned coating that is virtually transparent to our eyes but visible to birds. Available for new construction and window replacements as either laminated glass or a double-glazed insulated unit.
3. Move houseplants away from windows. Birds may view them as refuges and try to perch on them.
Common noise deterrents — high-frequency ultrasound, noise cannons, and recorded distress calls — are ineffective at preventing birds from colliding with windows.
American Bird Conservancy’s resources for preventing glass collisions
A preassembled curtain of taut monofilament lines strung three inches apart and five inches from the exterior of a window or sliding-door side panel. Birds see the lines and avoid them, while the space between the lines and glass gives birds that touch them a chance to spread their wings and brace themselves. Available in dark brown and white.
Some deterrents emit a magnetic field said to disrupt birds’ geomagnetic orientation and encourage them to avoid the area. Magnetic fields are not effective at protecting birds from window collisions.
Why suction-cup feeders are safest for birds and great for you
One window decal in the shape of a hawk will not frighten birds. Shape is not important.
Screens, films, decals, and other easy-to-use products that will prevent birds from hitting the windows of your home. By Jennifer Horton | Published: 4/23/2013
If you’re building a new home or remodeling, the following ideas can also be good alternatives:
An attractive transparent black fiberglass screen that hangs loosely in front of a pane of glass, providing a gentle cushion for birds that strike it. Screw hooks and suction-cup brackets, included with purchase, secure the screen to a window or sliding door. Custom sizes available.
The story is similar across the country. Collision with manmade structures ranks second among causes of death among migratory birds in North America. (Habitat loss is No. 1.) Approximately 100 million birds die in collisions every year — some experts put the number as high as one billion.
Collisions with buildings kill 365-988 million birds annually
PRICE: Varies depending on size and product. WEB: www.collidescape.org
1. Use fixtures that are shielded, instead of globe-type models that spew light everywhere. 2. Choose downlighting over uplighting to keep from directing light into the night sky. 3. Use motion sensors to avoid steady-burning lights, and timers to ensure that lights aren’t left on longer than necessary.
4. Look for products that have been approved by the International Dark Sky Association, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve and protect the nighttime environment through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting.
You can find lists of IDA-approved fixtures on the association’s website. Another effective step to consider is controlling the color of the light produced by your home.
Shields, bulbs, and other items that prevent light from shining into the night sky, where birds migrate.
For birds, glass windows are worse than invisible. By reflecting foliage or sky, they look like inviting places to fly into. And because the sheer number of windows is so great, their toll on birds is huge. Up to about 1 billion birds die from window strikes in the U.S. each year, according to a 2014 study.
Home The magazine Current issue Subscriptions and digital editions Meet the staff Submission guidelines Contests Contact us Cuba trip Getting started Birdfeeding basics Basics of bird-friendly yards Binoculars and spotting scopes Basics of bird ID Make your birdwatching count Facts about birds Bird 911 Coping with grackles Why is that bird bald? What to do if you find a baby bird Hotspots Near You Special Features Backyard Birds Birding BirdWatching Magazine Books Conservation Destinations Gear Photography Science Photos & Calendar Photo galleries Calendar of events Submit event See Inside!
Field tests show parachute cords deter bird-window collisions
2. Close curtain and blinds when possible to break up the illusion of clear passage or reflected habitat.
BirdWatching Magazine This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of BirdWatching. Scroll down to download the article as a PDF.
This is one of the simplest ways to reduce nighttime collisions. Ideally, you would turn off all lights between dusk and dawn, especially during migration season — that is, from mid-February to the end of May and from mid-August to the end of November.
Taking the simple steps listed below — in addition to deploying the products described on this page — will dramatically reduce the chance that birds will be harmed in collisions at your home.
Start by identifying dangerous windows, including large picture windows, paired windows at right angles to each other, or windows with feeders outside. Go outside and look at your windows from a bird’s point of view. If you see branches or sky reflected in or visible through the glass, that’s what the birds will see, too. Past recommendations about safe distances for feeders outside windows are no longer thought to be valid, Sheppard says. “If you’ve got windows near a bird feeder, you should make them bird friendly and don’t worry about how far away they are.”
Install external shutters and keep them closed when you’re not in the room or taking advantage of the light or view. (These can be huge energy savers, too!) Install external sun shades or awnings on windows, to block the reflection of sunlight.
Remote controlled shades are available. On new construction or when putting in new windows, consider windows that have the screen on the entire outside of the glass. Add interior vertical blinds and keep the slats only half open.
Avoid visual paths to sky and greenery. Bright windows on the opposite wall from your picture window may give the illusion of an open path to the other side. Closing a window shade or a door between rooms can sometimes solve this situation.
White static clings you can place on the inside or outside of a window, where they contrast with dark reflections of trees and surrounding scenery. Choose from a variety of nature-themed designs. Easy to apply and reusable. Available at your favorite birding-supply store or garden center.
The good news is that you can greatly reduce the danger your home’s windows post to birds with some simple remedies, according to Christine Sheppard, who directs the Bird Collisions Program of the American Bird Conservancy. The group offers extensive information on preventing collisions on its website. The Fatal Light Awareness Program also offers great information on preventing bird collisions.
When it comes to the effects of light on birds, not all wavelengths are created equal. Red light and white light (which contain visible long-wavelength radiation) disrupt birds’ geomagnetic orientation. Blue and green contain less long-wavelength radiation and are much less disorienting.
Covers the entire exterior surface of a window, reducing its reflectivity and transparency substantially, while thousands of small perforations in the film allow light to pass through to the interior. Ten percent of the purchase goes to the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) to help fund research to reduce bird-window collisions. Can be custom-printed.
An easy-to-apply liquid that can be daubed on a window’s exterior and dries clear, leaving marks that birds can see. Use alongside decals for the best coverage and protection against bird strikes. Available at your favorite birding-supply store.
The true cost of coffee: How your morning cup of joe can help save birds
Decals, liquid, and specially coated glass that reflect ultraviolet light, which birds can see but we can’t.
PRICE: $22-$26 for windows, $24 or $26 for a sliding door screen WEB: www.birdscreen.com
Decals cling using either static electricity or a low-tack adhesive. Each has a coating that reflects ultraviolet light, which birds can see but we can’t. When placed on a window’s exterior using the 2 x 4 Rule (see tips for using decals above), the resulting glow pattern deters window strikes. Choose from hummingbirds, butterflies, maple leaves, and other shapes. Available at your favorite birding-supply store.
At first glance, it looks like an insanely prolific morning of birding: 4,136 Song Sparrows, 3,632 Dark-eyed Juncos, 3,362 Swamp Sparrows, 2,532 White-throated Sparrows, and 1,417 Hermit Thrushes.